Some will tell you that great wall scuba diving resembles visiting an art museum (except much, much more interactive). It makes sense! After all, wall scuba diving involves moving past sheer vertical walls that are “painted” with vibrant patches of coral and spiked with really unique marine habitats.
Deciding on the top 10 places in the world to enjoy wall diving is a little like choosing the ten most beautiful people on the planet, or the top 10 best restaurants on earth. In other words, it’s always open to debate. Do you want to “fly” along an underwater cliff? Do you want to drift past a fortress of coral walls that hems the barrier between the shallows and the depths? Do you want to dodge in and out of underwater caves as you move along an endless lateral aquarium? Add a few more elements to the wall diving experience (like far-as-the-eye-can-see visibility and water temperatures that hover in the vicinity of 80-plus degrees), and you’re scuba diving in paradise. Each of the following 10 wall dives offers something special for the wall diving aficionado.
1. Punta Sur, Columbia, and Santa Rosa are classics. They’re soaring reef walls in the south west region of Cozumel, arguably the scuba diving capitol of Mexico, and they look like a Jackson Pollack interpretation of underwater wonder.
2. Seeing Washington State on this list may surprise scuba divers. It shouldn’t: although the waters are cold, the walls are wildly various and offer an exciting change in marine life for those accustomed to wall scuba dives in the balmy, tropical waters of the Pacific or the Carribean. Day Island Wall, Waterman’s Wall, and Point Defiance in Seattle’s Puget Sound reveal a fascinating collection of reefs, chimneys, and rocky cliffs.
3. The Big Drop-Off and Ngemelis Wall are coral walls in the Rock Islands of Palau. They run the entire length of Ngemelis Island, starting out in the shallows and then dropping precipitously when they approach the seabed. As well as a clamoring company of sea life, there are a few interesting WWII relics dotting the wall, making your scuba diving excursion something of an interesting history lesson.
4. Some divers may argue that Grand Cayman should top the list because names like the Canyon Orange, Cave of the Trinity, and Big Tunnels are legendary in the world of wall scuba diving. You’ll explore a full map of passageways, crevices, and tunnels with the briny inhabitants of the walls’ labyrinthine features.
5. Let’s not forget Lesser (aka “Little”) Cayman: The Bloody Bay Wall, the Great Wall, and Marilyn’s Cut can be found to the north. Impressively decorated and deep enough to occupy you for several long dives and terribly convenient to visit, these have become Cousteau-vetted scuba diving classics.
6. On the west side of the Grand Turk, scuba divers will encounter some truly spectacular coral regions. You’ll swoop through cathedral-high arches as well as sand embankments, dodging armies of lovely fish through the perpendicular divide.
7. Ever tried scuba diving in Vancouver? You don’t know what you’re missing. There’s a living mural of dark rock walls swirling with bright-as-snow cirrus anemones in British Columbia, and it only takes a little more padding to shore yourself up against the chilly waters. You’ll be glad you did.
8. Papua New Guinea has astonishing underwater gardens hanging on startlingly expansive walls in Milne Bay, Kimbe Bay, and Madang. The expanse is draped with gorgonian fans, seawhips and soft coral trees, and the outgoing tide starts a regular block party of feeding marine life (including pygmy seahorses).
9. St Croix in the US Virgin Islands is full of scuba diving, and there’s lots of wall to enjoy here. There’s a yawning abyss to explore between the distinctly different walls, as well as several walls with brilliantly distinct “levels” of marine life.